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Old 01-01-2019, 04:33   #1
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Internet Connectivity Cruising Maine?

Looking at cruising Maine this summer and it looks like there are a lot of coverage gaps for 4G service up there.

What's the best way to have an internet connection on the boat?

I run some small businesses and have to be online daily to manage them. No streaming video or anything. Just browsing websites and FTP and things like that.

What's the latest and greatest and least expensive solution these days?
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Old 01-01-2019, 08:17   #2
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Re: Internet Connectivity Cruising Maine?

What kind of boat do you have?

The best deal right now for light web browsing, FTP, etc without breaking the bank is an Inmarsat Fleet One. It's about $3K for the hardware and then a service plan. They have a special Americas Leisure Unlimited plan that works up to 200nm off the coast for North/Central/South America. Speed is only 100kbps but still fast enough for light web browsing, etc. In a given month, the plan provides 30MB of data at 100kbps, followed by an additional 30MB of data at 32kbps, then unlimited at 16kbps. At the end of each month, the speed resets. https://www.sea-tech.com/product/fle...irtime-bundle/

Depending on how much data you think you need, this may or may not work. I know of a boater who uploaded videos to Facebook with this same plan, it took a while, but it worked.

After that, you would be looking at Iridium Certus, which will be more like $7K for hardware, and a few hundred $ per month, but higher speeds (750kbps to 1.5mbps). Certus isn't quite available yet but will be in a month or so.

Finally, there is KVH which is much faster and the data (per-MB) is much less expensive, but the hardware cost is much higher. https://www.sea-tech.com/product/kvh-tracphone-v3hts/

What do you absolutely need to be able to do for your business between cellular coverage areas?
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Old 01-01-2019, 08:20   #3
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Re: Internet Connectivity Cruising Maine?

Also, if you are interested in a more formal consulting engagement on this, I offer a service tailored to your need. https://www.sea-tech.com/2018/11/05/...oring-service/
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Old 01-01-2019, 09:28   #4
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Re: Internet Connectivity Cruising Maine?

Sea Tech, thank you fir the run down in the current satellite offerings.

For half the money of the lowest cost system, it seems a monster 4G antenna, diversity antenna and signal booster as well as amplified wifi/antenna makes sense.

Though this is a fairly sketchy area with cellular signals, I'm not going Antarctica either.

Was looking for something a bit more sensible on the budget with better speeds (measured in MB/s not KB/s) and would work amazingly well when in civilization.
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Old 01-01-2019, 09:54   #5
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Re: Internet Connectivity Cruising Maine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chotu View Post
Sea Tech, thank you fir the run down in the current satellite offerings.

For half the money of the lowest cost system, it seems a monster 4G antenna, diversity antenna and signal booster as well as amplified wifi/antenna makes sense.

Though this is a fairly sketchy area with cellular signals, I'm not going Antarctica either.

Was looking for something a bit more sensible on the budget with better speeds (measured in MB/s not KB/s) and would work amazingly well when in civilization.
You can certainly enhance your cellular signal with some reasonable equipment. One way would be to use a Cellular Booster, to increase the signal strength of your existing devices. Alternatively, you can use a Cellular Router/Extender that has it's own SIM card and a local WiFi network to access the Internet via long-range cellular.

I recently posted a blog that runs down the current list of cellular options on the market. Take a look at that and it may give you a good start.
https://www.sea-tech.com/2018/12/30/...e-for-my-boat/

The primary requirement is to get the antenna up high enough for long range. General wisdom there is 20ft above the water, or higher. 20ft elevation gets you generally about 20nm without obstructions.. But if you are cruising in areas of hills, mountains, fjords, etc, where line-of-sight to a tower is blocked, then the range will be less of course. A high-mounted antenna with clear visibility in all directions will bring in a signal better than a phone inside the boat can.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:00   #6
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Re: Internet Connectivity Cruising Maine?

Where do you plan to cruise? Do you anchor out or use marinas?

Cell data coverage is indeed spotty, but most of the populated areas do have good signals. Better if you have a good booster.

If your needs aren't too bandwidth-hungry, and you don't go too far out, a tethered cell phone or dedicated cellular hot spot may do the trick. There will be a few places that just don't work; move a few miles and you should be OK.

Another consideration is which carrier. Most of the big names have decent coverage in the South coast of Maine, although having a service that can use different carriers (or having two plans) is better. Farther Down East, you get into US Cellular territory. Nothing else will work, for example, in Eastport. Google Fi has a plan that uses several carriers, including US Cellular. They also allow tethering, and you can get a second SIM card on the same plan for a mobile hotspot. Down side is you do pay $10/G for data.
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